"I understand why both women would keep this information to themselves for so many years," she writes in heartbreaking op-ed.
Padma Lakshmi opened up about about being raped as a teenager on New Year's Eve in harrowing detail Tuesday.
Days after she first came forward with her childhood trauma on Twitter as part of the #WhyIDidntReport movement, tweeting about being molested at the age of 7 and then raped by an older man she was dating when she was 16, she went into detail in a New York Times op-ed titled, "I Was Raped at 16 and I Kept Silent."
"The two of us had gone to a couple of parties. Afterward, we went to his apartment. While we were talking, I was so tired that I lay on the bed and fell asleep," she wrote. "The next thing I remember is waking up to a very sharp stabbing pain like a knife blade between my legs. He was on top of me. I asked, 'What are you doing?' He said, 'It will only hurt for a while.' 'Please don’t do this,' I screamed."
"The pain was excruciating, and as he continued, my tears felt like fear," she said. "Afterward, he said, 'I thought it would hurt less if you were asleep.' Then he drove me home."
The man, who she does not name, was 23 at the time and in college. She said they met at the Puente Hills Mall in a Los Angeles suburb, where she worked after school at Robinsons-May and he worked at a high-end men's store.
According to Lakshmi, he acted like a gentleman before he forcibly took her virginity without her consent. But she had a larger point to make aside from pointing out that predators aren't always obvious. As a victim of sexual assault, she understands why the women accusing President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of the same crime didn't come forward decades ago.
"On Friday, President Trump tweeted that if what Dr. Ford said was true, she would have filed a police report years ago. But I understand why both women would keep this information to themselves for so many years, without involving the police," she wrote. "For years, I did the same thing."
After she was raped, Lakshmi said she tried to forget it ever happened rather than report it. "I didn’t report it. Not to my mother, not to my friends and certainly not to the police. At first I was in shock. That evening, I let my mother know when I was home, then went to sleep, hoping to forget that night."
"Soon I began to feel that it was my fault," she continued. "We had no language in the 1980s for date rape. I imagined that adults would say: 'What the hell were you doing in his apartment? Why were you dating someone so much older?' I don’t think I classified it as rape -- or even sex -- in my head."
The decision not to come forward, she wrote, came from a previous trauma: "When I was 7 years old, my stepfather’s relative touched me between my legs and put my hand on his erect penis," she wrote in the op-ed. "Shortly after I told my mother and stepfather, they sent me to India for a year to live with my grandparents. The lesson was: If you speak up, you will be cast out."
See her previous tweets on the trauma she endured below:
The second time I was 16 years old and a virgin. He was my boyfriend. "Date rape" wasn't discussed in the 80's. I was horrified and ashamed. #WhyIDidntReport— Padma Lakshmi (@PadmaLakshmi) September 21, 2018
The third time I was assaulted I was 23. I thought that no one would believe me, because no one wanted to stand up to him. I had seen the way Anita Hill was treated when she came forward. #WhyIDidntReport— Padma Lakshmi (@PadmaLakshmi) September 21, 2018